Single-sex education is a highly debated topic, one that comes with long lists of pros and cons, depending on who you ask. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons. It was the option that my family chose for my brothers and me when choosing where we should attend high school. And I'm not here to argue that it's always the best option, because I know it's not for everyone. But in my experience, having the privilege to be a part of a same gender educational community during my high school years, was highly beneficial and something that I would never change.
Yes, it's true, the well known and widely discussed benefits of a social environment with less distraction and pressure and opportunity to focus on the methods of learning that work best for each gender (because yes, boys and girls do learn best in different ways), are both great. There's a reason that research points to and backs up these strong points in same gender education. But, in my opinion, those aren't even the greatest benefits we stand to gain from single sex education.
For me, attending an all girls high school was one of the best decisions I ever made. All throughout elementary school and my freshman year of high school, I attended co-ed schools. And I want to make it clear that I am not arguing against co-ed education, because I loved my experience there too. In fact, my years at my elementary school were some of the best, and I still have some very close friends from there. I just never knew what it would be like to be a part of same gender education, or how much I would get out of it. But then I transferred to an all girls high school to start my sophomore year, and as skeptical as I was about the uniforms and all of it, to this day I am so glad that I did. In fact, even now, in my second year of college, I miss being a part of that community.
To me, the best part of attending an all girls high school was being surrounded by a community of strong women and girls. Because removing one gender reduces the social pressure, spending your high school years in an environment surrounded by peers of only your gender really allows you to freely pursue your passions. Even if we aren't consciously aware of it, in a co-ed environment there is an ever-present pressure to conform to gender roles. In the way we participate in class, in which clubs we choose to join, in how we dress each morning, or even where we choose to sit at lunch. Instead, being surrounded by and getting to know role models of your gender helps to remove that limitation and make you more comfortable and confident in your own gender.
I know that some concern about single sex education comes from the difficulty it may bring later in assimilation into a co-ed world for college or beyond. And while that may have some legitimacy, and I can't speak to all same gender schools, my personal experience was that there were still plenty of opportunities to interact with those of the opposite gender. As I believe is the case with many same gender schools, we shared clubs, events, and even some classes with our brother school. It doesn't have to be an isolating experience in that way if you don't want it to be.
Another one of my favorite aspects of my experience, was the sense of empowerment that I gained. Generally, with large groups of girls, comes arguments over the smallest things and plenty of drama. We all know that. I'm not saying that doesn't still happen, but somehow when you put a group of girls together, remove the boys, and add uniforms, it seems to happen a whole lot less. I know it certainly helped me to realize that in the world we live in today, it's important to know how to look past all of the petty drama and small things. We all know how much being a girl can just plain suck, so forming real bonds and friendships with the women around you, the ones who understand you and your struggles the most, and then supporting and empowering each other rather than tearing each other down, can make a huge difference.
Before going to an all girls school, I tended to hang out more with boys, just because my experiences with close girl friends in the past had all ended negatively for one petty reason or another. But I came out of high school with a small group of very close girl friends, who support me in everything I do, and who I know will be my friends for life. And for that I am forever grateful. I'm not sure I would be able to say the same if I had continued at a co-ed school.
I know that it's not for everyone, but I loved my years at my all girls school, and I miss it. It's a great option, and I would choose it again without hesitation if I had to. A special thank you to everyone who made my experience a good one. I miss you all.